The young fellow showed up at grouse camp and right away said, “I might have made a big mistake. I promised my sister a grouse.” We’ll change his name to Red, to keep his identity a secret.
Now, it was his first trip to our big woods. I know he’s shot grouse before, because there were pictures. Those can never be faked, right? He settled in and we looked at his guns and got reacquainted.
In the morning, while I cooked breakfast, my long time hunting buddy, Don Pouliot, showed up. The weather threatened rain, but the three of us rode to a favorite area about forty minutes away and far up in the woods. The birds were few, but I managed a grouse in my bag. With the weather turning wet, we spent time in a local sporting goods store.
|Don Pouliot, out in the thick of things.|
The next day we drove up into another big chunk of wilderness and found a ton of grouse. We even saw four sitting in the logging road in one spot, which we drove past to stop a quarter mile down the road and let the dogs out. The older wirehair locked up right at roadside, and on our approach three or four flushed into the woods. Not a feather was touched. A late launcher on the other side of the road made the fatal mistake of offering an easy straight-away shot for me.
In spite of our best efforts and giving Red unsurpassed opportunities, he never shot a grouse during the entire day.
|Chara on point.|
The third and last day of his stay, we hunted two more areas and found plentiful grouse, but again, none came home in his game bag. As the afternoon waned, the pressure was on.
I took him to the one spot I always could count on a pile of birds. It is tough gunning there, with thick softwoods in damp terrain, but the birds are always present. The dogs found birds and made some points. Just finding the dogs can be difficult in that spot.
A grouse leapt up into a softwood and watched us all approach. We discussed the direction it might fly, put Red in the optimum spot, and then Don and I tossed sticks at the bird. It flew. Red shot. Shot again. The bird flew safelyaway.
|Red, sizing things up|
The dogs, who had watched the whole event, went into overdrive, shaking their heads, but at least laughing silently. Immediately, it was their turn to screw up and they bumped a grouse that flew up into another softwood tree.
|Colby giving Red the evil eye|
Again, we played through the same scenario, discussing where it might fly, putting Red in the best possible shooting spot, then kicking the tree and tossing sticks until the bird flew.
And with the same results.
I did feel bad. Red would leave without a grouse for his sister, but we had a lot of fun and it will be a day I long remember. I think Red had fun too.